Debates of May 9th, 1996
House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.
- Point Of Order
- Government's Response To Petitions
- Committees Of The House
- Canada Labour Code
- Food And Drugs Act
- Equal Treatment Of People Cohabiting In A Relationship Similar To A Conjugal Relationship Act
- Department Of Labour Act
- Committees Of The House
- Questions On The Order Paper
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Figure Skating
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- National Unity
- Bill C-33
- City Of Montreal
- National Nursing Week
- National Forest Week
- Prison Reform
- Westray Mine Disaster
- Parti Quebecois
- War Crimes
- Westray Mine Disaster
- Human Rights
- Unemployment Insurance Reform
- The Senate
- Natural Resources
- Coast Guard
- Coast Guard
- Laval Space Camp
- Presence In Gallery
- Business Of The House
- Point Of Order
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Immigration Consultants
Peter Adams Peterborough, ON
Madam Speaker, I have two petitions.
The first is from citizens of Peterborough who draw to the attention of the House that in spite of the fact that the United Nations has adopted resolutions affirming the rights of the East Timorese people to self-determination, the Indonesia military, which continues to occupy East Timor, has inflicted violence and has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of East Timorese.
Therefore these petitioners request that Parliament support an arms embargo against Indonesia, call on the Indonesian government to free all political prisoners and end Canadian government funding for the promotion of trade with Indonesia.
Peter Adams Peterborough, ON
Madam Speaker, the second petition is from people in Peterborough who note that the Government of Canada was involved in the extradition of Mr. Leonard Peltier to the United States. New information has surfaced indicating that Leonard Peltier's extradition may have been illegal due to witnesses recanting.
Early in 1994 the justice department of Canada announced that it was reviewing the legality of the extradition. Therefore these petitioners request Parliament inform them of the findings of this review.
Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON
Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have two petitions to present today on behalf of constituents of Simcoe Centre.
The first petition requests the Government of Canada not amend the human rights act to include the phrase sexual orientation. The petitioners fear that such an inclusion would indicate societal for approval of homosexual behaviour.
The petitioners believe the government should not legitimize this behaviour against the clear wishes of the majority.
Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON
Madam Speaker, the second petition concerns the age of consent. The petitioners ask that Parliament set the age of consent at 18 years to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.
Pat O'Brien London—Middlesex, ON
Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present five petitions bearing hundreds of names of people in my riding of London-Middlesex and nearby ridings.
The petitioners express their serious concerns about changes to federal legislation which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships.
These same people call on Parliament not to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act or the charter of rights and freedoms to include the undefined phrase sexual orientation. I am most pleased to support their concerns.
Sharon Hayes Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise pursuant to Standing Order 36 to present a petition from my constituents in Port Moody-Coquitlam and the neighbouring riding of Burnaby.
Whereas the majority of Canadians believe the privileges which society accords to heterosexual couples should not be extended to same sex relationships, and whereas societal approval, including the extension of societal privileges, would be given to same sex relationships if any amendment to Canadian Human Rights Act were to include the undefined phrase sexual orientation as a grounds of discrimination, the petitioners request that Parliament not amend the Canadian Human Rights Act or the charter of rights and freedoms in anyway that would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the human rights act to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase sexual orientation.
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
Madam Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of 265 Nova Scotians calling on Parliament to act immediately to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Questions On The Order Paper
Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
Questions On The Order Paper
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)
Is that agreed?
Questions On The Order Paper
Some hon. members
Canadian Human Rights Act
May 9th, 1996 / 10:25 a.m.
Martin Cauchon for Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
moved that Bill C-33, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, be read the third time and passed.
Canadian Human Rights Act
Prince Albert—Churchill River
Gordon Kirkby Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to speak on third reading of Bill C-33, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act.
With this amendment we will fulfil a political commitment to the people of Canada and implement a long standing policy of the Liberal Party of Canada. This amendment will bring the Canadian Human Rights Act up to date with court decisions, with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and with the human rights legislation of the majority of the provinces which already have such legislation in place. It will give effect to the fundamental principle and value in Canadian society that individuals should be treated fairly.
The commitment is clear. The Prime Minister said during the last election campaign this amendment would be introduced. In the 1994 throne speech the government promised amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Since then the Minister of Justice has repeated the commitment.
The position of the Liberal Party of Canada is clear and has been so for a long time. The amendment has been the policy of the Liberal Party for nearly 20 years.
Nearly 20 years ago, the Liberal Party passed a resolution in support of offering protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Further resolutions to this effect have been passed, most recently two weeks ago at the Liberal Party meeting in Windsor, Ontario. In 1985 an all-party House of Commons committee unanimously passed a resolution that this amendment should be made.
The position of the Liberal Party of Canada has for many years been to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Having formed the government we are following through on the commitment.
Now I would like to talk about Bill C-33, its purpose and its effect. It is important to look at this carefully and objectively so that we clearly understand what the bill does and what the bill does not do. I have listened to the debate on the bill and I want to address the misconceptions and misperceptions that may exist about it.
Let us talk about the scope of the Canadian Human Rights Act. I think this has sometimes been lost in the debate so far. It is important to remember the real scope of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
First, the act applies only to employment and the provision of goods and services coming under federal jurisdiction.
This includes the federal government and federally regulated employers such as banks, railway companies, air transportation and telecommunications common carriers.
Second, this means that only about 10 per cent of the Canadian workforce is covered by the Canadian Human Rights Act. The rest of the workforce is covered by provincial and territorial human rights codes. The vast majority of employers and service providers come under provincial jurisdiction. Religious, cultural and educational institutions come under provincial jurisdiction and therefore are subject to the provincial codes, not the federal codes.
The scope of the Canadian Human Rights Act and this bill is limited to what I have heard said about it. This brings me to another very important point. This amendment is hardly revolutionary and hardly new, not only in respect of the Canadian Human Rights Act but in respect of all those areas to which, as I have said, the Canadian Human Rights Act does not apply but provincial laws and the charter of rights and freedoms do apply.
Sexual orientation is already in the majority of human rights laws by court order or by legislative action. Eight provinces or territories with 90 per cent of the population in Canada have already added sexual orientation to their human rights legislation, that is, to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation within the provincial legislation: Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Yukon, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia, and my own province of Saskatchewan. Some of these provinces implemented this legislation as long as 20 years ago.
The Supreme Court of Canada has held that section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the Constitution and thus part of the supreme law of the land, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ordered in 1992 in the case of Haig v. Canada that the Canadian Human Rights Act should be treated as though sexual orientation were already a prohibited ground of discrimination. Since that ruling, cases have been dealt with in legal fora under the act regardless of this amendment.
This amendment merely confirms what has already been put in place by the courts. The amendment in Bill C-33 will bring the Canadian Human Rights Act into conformity with these court rulings and with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It is time for parliamentarians to act on this. Canadians should not have to turn in cases such as this where we are dealing with discrimination or protection against discrimination to find out what the law is. The law should be plain on its face and there for everybody to see.
The law is composed of statutes, court decisions and common law. When a court decision has the effect of changing or modifying a statute, it is important that the court decision changes the statute in a manner which reflects or deals with the court decision so the law is plain on the face of it.
Courts have made these types of decisions for many many years, even before the charter of rights and freedoms came into effect. Legislatures and Parliaments across this land since then have dealt
with legislation that has been altered or modified by court decisions to make the legislation more clear.
It is the responsibility of Parliament to articulate and codify principles of equality. This should not be left to the courts. I have listened to some people suggest that we have not had time enough to debate this issue, which is not so. This issue has been around for 20 years. It has been discussed and debated. Parliament has addressed this issue many times.
There have been many private members' bills. There was legislation introduced by the previous government. There has been an all-party report by a parliamentary committee which held hearings across Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada has addressed the issue. The government has received countless letters and submissions. The elected legislatures of eight jurisdictions in Canada with almost 90 per cent of the population have voted to enact such amendments.
Much has been said on this issue and much time has been taken already. The issues are clear and now it is time to make a decision. I know there are strong feelings and beliefs on this issue which I respect. As a matter of fairness and justice we have to address this issue. It is an issue of how we treat people in the workplace and in the marketplace. We have tried to explain this.
I will take the opportunity to talk about what this amendment does and does not do. This amendment will prevent basic forms of discrimination. It is to prevent what we all agree is unjust: firing someone from a job because they are gay or lesbian; denying someone service at a bank because they are gay or lesbian. This is a matter of simple fairness. Canadians do not think it is fair to fire someone from a job or refuse them service only because they are gay or lesbian.
I have heard it suggested that this bill provides special rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bill C-33 will not give special rights to anyone. If an individual is discriminated against on the basis of colour, whether black or white, they are protected by human rights legislation. If an individual is discriminated against on the ground of religion, be they Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or some other religion, they are protected by human rights legislation. Similarly, if an individual is discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, be they heterosexual or homosexual, human rights legislation offers protection.
Protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at the federal level means that a person who has been fired by an air carrier or a railway company or was denied service by a bank is offered a remedy under human rights legislation.
Human rights laws are intended to ensure that individuals can be hired and employed and services provided to them on the same basis as everyone else, not to be fired or refused a service merely because of their colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation. This is not special treatment; it is the very opposite. It is intended to stop employers or service businesses from singling out homosexuals, blacks or religious minorities and instead treat them the same as everyone else. This is not special rights. It is equal treatment.
The law will protect heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. But it is clear that it will protect those who need the protection the most, that part of our society that has been subject to historical disadvantages and stereotyping, to discrimination and worse. The evidence is clear. Gay bashing, discrimination within the workplace, discrimination in obtaining goods and services: tribunals and courts are replete with such examples of discrimination and we must move to remedy that situation.
The Parliamentary committee that looked at this issue wrote as follows:
We were shocked by a number of the experiences of unfair treatment related to us by homosexuals in different parts of the country. We heard about the harassment of and violence committed against homosexuals. We were told in graphic detail about physical abuse and psychological oppression suffered by homosexuals.
The amendments will reinforce the message that Canadians do not tolerate prejudice and discrimination. We will not permit our colleagues, our friends, our relatives, our sons or daughters, our fellow citizens to suffer simply because of their sexual orientation.
What is the impact on the family, on marriage, on other societal institutions? The bill will not detract from marriage and family. Marriage, whether it is solemnized according to provincial laws or is common law, and the family are fundamental parts of our society. Nothing is going to change that. In our laws, our policies, our practices, we will continue to provide support to these institutions. That will not change now or ever.
The preamble of Bill C-33 makes this abundantly clear. It recognizes the family as the foundation of Canadian society. It also affirms that the amendment will not alter the fundamental role of family in our society.
As mentioned above, the Canadian Human Rights Act deals with discrimination in employment and the provision of goods and services. It is not broader than that; it is not more than that. I will repeat it again because this has been the source of some misunderstanding. The Canadian Human Rights Act and the amendment we are dealing with deals with discrimination in employment and the provision of goods and services only. The purpose of the preamble
is to keep the focus on this and to make it clear that the amendment will not detract from the importance of the family.
What about marriage? This amendment cannot change marriage because the Canadian Human Rights Act has absolutely no application to marriage. The act applies to employment and the provision of goods and services. Maxwell Yalden, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said last month before the Senate committee studying Bill S-2: "We are not talking about who is married and who is not married. That is none of the business of our commission".
That is right. The Canadian Human Rights Act simply does not apply to marriage. The common law has always provided that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. The common law has equal force with the statute law.
When this law was challenged under section 15 of the charter, protection against the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the court held: "The common law limitation of marriage to persons of the opposite sex does not constitute discrimination". This is the law across Canada.
The inclusion of sexual orientation in the charger and in the majority of provincial human rights statutes has not changed this. As I said, the Canadian Human Rights Act and this bill cannot change this because they, without a doubt, have no application to the laws on marriage.
I have also heard people worry about the grounds of family status in the act. In 1993 the Supreme Court of Canada decided in the Mossop case that family status does not include same sex relationships. That was the decision of the court then and it remains the law today.
While some have expressed concern about the court revisiting this, the concern has been resolved. In the Egan and Nesbit case last year the Supreme Court of Canada made it clear that issues about benefits in respect of same sex relationships will be dealt with as a matter of sexual orientation. This is now in the law by court order.
The grounds of family status and marital status were not involved. It is clear there is simply no need for the courts to reopen the definition of family status or for a definition of marital status to be legislated.
I have also heard suggested that the bill affects adoption. This is plainly and clearly wrong. This is a simple matter of the constitutional division of powers between the federal government and the provinces. Adoption is a matter of provincial jurisdiction. This law covers only matters coming within federal jurisdiction. This amendment does not, cannot and will not affect adoption.
I have been asked about the question of benefits for same sex partners. Let us be clear that this amendment makes a simple change to the Canadian Human Rights Act. It does not change the law on benefits. Whatever we do here, the issue of benefits is already before the tribunals and courts. Whether we make this amendment or not is not relevant.
The tribunals and courts are already dealing with the benefits question. This amendment will not change that. It will not change the law. Moreover, in the Egan case last year the Supreme Court of Canada held unanimously that sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the equality provision, section 15 of the charter. The court also held that such discrimination did not support the extension to same sex partners of the pension benefits, the issue in that case.
As I mentioned earlier, eight of the provinces and territories prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Although the prohibitions have been around for some time, these provisions have not led to the automatic extension of benefits to same sex partners.
Sexual orientation has been in provincial human rights statutes going back as far as 1977. It has also been included by the courts in section 15, the equality right guarantee, of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As a result there have been a considerable number of cases in which tribunals and courts have looked at discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They have interpreted it to mean homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality. The courts and tribunals are clear on this. There is a clear understanding of this. The definition is clear.
Further, the seven provinces which have added sexual orientation to their human rights legislation have not defined it. Even the Supreme Court of Canada, which considered sexual orientation under the charter in the Egan and Nesbit case last year, saw no need to define the term.
It is clear this law protects lawful conduct, nothing else and nothing more.
Any currently prohibited behaviour will remain unlawful under the Criminal Code and be afforded no protection through this amendment.
To remove any doubt, the preamble of the bill provides that the law applies only in respect of lawful conduct.
I have heard it suggested that it would be better to drop the list of grounds from the Canadian Human Rights Act rather than add sexual orientation. Again, I am not certain if I understand the point. If we drop the list of grounds, what would it be replaced with? How would we protect against discrimination on the basis of
race, religion, sex and sexual orientation? How would we know what forms of discrimination are prohibited and which are not? I simply do not understand what this would accomplish. Either we protect against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and the other listed grounds or we do not.
In my view it is mischievous to suggest dropping the list. I believe ultimately the suggestion is meaningless. It is simply designed to stir up controversy, trouble and confusion. It is intended to avoid the real issue.
If we are to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation the amendments in the bill will do that. There is no other way.
I have tried to address the questions I have heard, the fears and the misconceptions. When we look at this amendment issue by issue, point by point, we can develop a better appreciation of what the bill does and what it does not do. We develop a better appreciation of what the amendment is all about. It is about human rights. It is simply a matter of justice and fairness.
It is a matter of justice and fairness.
Today's debate comes down to a basic question. Do we think it is right to discriminate against gays or lesbians, to fire them from their jobs or refuse them service because of their sexual orientation? We believe the answer is no. The answer flows from the Canadian tradition of tolerance and fairness.
This is a proud tradition.
These are values we all hold close.
These values are fundamental to our identity as Canadians.
After having reflected on this thoughtfully and carefully I think the way is clear. I believe the bill deserves the support of the House of Commons.
Canadian Human Rights Act
Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC
Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech. I also appreciated his efforts to deliver a few words in French and would like to tell him his French is excellent and that I have no doubt things will improve. As the member knows, I try to speak English. I am taking courses three days a week at 8 a.m., with the firm objective of becoming perfectly bilingual within two years. This, however, is not the subject of today's debate.
There is no way we can forget that all sorts of remarks have been made on the subject of Bill C-33 in the past two weeks, since the debate got under way. Some remarks have caused us to grow, some have caused us to blanch and some have caused us outrage.
I would like to continue in the same vein as the hon. parliamentary secretary and try today to remain very generous, very open in what I have to say and try especially to put a number of things back into context.
I would recall that our debate today concerns an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act. So we are not talking about the charter. Sometimes journalists and perhaps our fellow Canadians get these two mixed up, but the act is an organic law with the same status as all the laws we pass in this Parliament. The difference between it and the Canadian Charter of Human Rights is that the charter is enshrined in the Constitution and cannot be amended without a round of constitutional negotiations and the use of the seven and fifty amending formula, which requires seven provinces representing fifty per cent of the population to approve any amendment to the Constitution Act of 1982, which is the country's supreme law.
That said, the Canadian Human Rights Act is a very important act because it is one way we have as parliamentarians to put a stop to potential discrimination in this country. There are in fact three ways to do this: the charter, of course, which has already been mentioned; the Canadian Bill of Rights, which was passed in the early 1960s by the Diefenbaker government and which continues to apply; and the Canadian Human Rights Act, which, and I do not think it can ever be said clearly enough, applies to firms under federal jurisdiction and to individuals receiving services from the federal government. So, we are talking about some 10 per cent of Canadian workers.
The Canadian Human Rights Act has been in existence since 1977. It is worth remembering that, first, when the Canadian Human Rights Act first came into effect-I was rereading the 1977 debates-some parliamentarians proposed including sexual orientation with the nine other prohibited grounds for discrimination. For a whole lot of reasons that do not warrant going over this morning, it was not possible. What we are doing today as parliamentarians-a little later in the day, at 5.30 p.m., if my information is correct-is changing the Canadian Human Rights Act to include an 11th item in the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination.
Now, let us have a closer look. What is discrimination, under the Canadian Human Rights Act, which applies to businesses under federal jurisdiction and to people receiving services from the federal government? Discrimination is defined as follows, and I think we should bear the definition in mind during the debate. To discriminate against someone is to treat that person in a different,
negative or unfavourable manner, for no valid reason. When the courts have had to interpret discrimination they, of course, stumbled over two elements of the definition: "to treat" and "no valid reason".
As we are speaking, there are prohibited grounds of discrimination and I want to mention them. There is of course discrimination based on race. As we know, an extreme form of such discrimination can lead to tragic cases of intolerance, as we have seen all too often during this century. Then there is national or ethnic origin. No one can be deprived of services or discriminated against regarding employment, based on his or her race, national or ethnic origin, or colour. This reminds me of comments made by some members which were, and I know you will agree, absolutely unacceptable in Parliament and in society in general. Then there is religion. Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, it is prohibited to discriminate against someone on the basis of religion.
Then there is age. As we know, it is because this is in the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination that the government cannot, for example, force an individual to retire at age 65. Madam Speaker, you could, if it is the voters' wish and yours as well, remain in the Chair beyond the age of 65.
Then there is sex, including the fact that one is pregnant. Other prohibited grounds are marital status, family status and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted. Indeed, all those who were found guilty by the courts and who served a jail sentence, but were then granted a pardon under the established practice in our legal system, cannot be discriminated against because they have been granted such a pardon. Physical or mental disability is of course another important item on the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
What the bill seeks to do is to add sexual orientation to this list. The parliamentary secretary mentioned it earlier. I think we have to say it, and I agree with the government. There are certain issues regarding which I fully endorse the government's views. Then, of course, there are others regarding which I do not want to be associated with it. However, this time, it would have been a serious mistake on the government's part to try to define sexual orientation.
Why not define sexual orientation? First, because between 1977 and 1993, out of the seven provinces and one territory that sought to provide such protection regarding sexual orientation in their human rights code, none defined sexual orientation. They did not include a definition because, given existing legal precedents, this expression clearly refers to three possibilities: homosexuality, heterosexuality and, of course, bisexuality.
The saddest thing that has gone on in this debate, where certain members, which the most elementary courtesy prevents me from naming, have unforgivably overstepped the bounds, is of course the absolutely ridiculous, idiotic, confused and unfounded connections made between the protection we want given on the basis of sexual orientation, and pedophilia.
I rely on all the strength of my convictions in telling members and listeners that there is no possible connection between what we are now discussing and pedophilia. And do you know why? For two reasons. First, because it is very clear, as both the parliamentary secretary and the justice minister have said, that what is prohibited under the Criminal Code will, in all circumstances, continue to be prohibited.
It is very clear, under the Criminal Code, under conventions, in the case law, that pedophilia is an offence. There is not a living soul, and certainly not the one now speaking to you, who, however liberal he might be, is going to tell us today that protecting people against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the work place or in the delivery of services by the federal government will lead to the recognition of pedophilia.
Pedophilia is a criminal offence. Not only is it a criminal offence, but I challenge-I do not know if I may do so through you, but I challenge-any member of the Reform Party to rise in this House, with statistics to back him up, and to put his seat on the line and table studies or rulings showing that either administrative or legal tribunals have, in the past, offered protection on the basis of sexual orientation to pedophiles. It has never happened, and it cannot happen, because pedophilia is a criminal offence and must continue to be one.
It must continue to be a criminal offence because it depends on the exploitation of a child by an adult. Once there is exploitation, non-consent, and this is true for rape, it is very clear that the provisions of the Criminal Code come into play. I find it utterly dishonest, and I am being polite, to make the sorts of comparisons that have been made by certain members of the Reform Party.
It is not only dishonest, but irresponsible. It is irresponsible because it suggests that all homosexuals are pedophiles. Furthermore, according to the rigorous studies that have been conducted, 98 per cent of all pedophilia charges laid in the last 20 years-not last year, not two years ago, but in the last 20 years-were laid against heterosexuals. Make no mistake: 9.8 out of 10 people who commit the crime of pedophilia are heterosexuals.
I am not saying that our society must not try to rehabilitate pedophiles. It is clear that it is a deviant behavior, that it is truly
pathological in the etymological sense of the word, but, for pity's sake, let us be responsible and stop drawing parallels that are not supported by jurisprudence, psychology or criminal law.
Although the government should probably have acted earlier, I am happy that it has finally done so. What matters is the outcome. The government knows it could not find a better ally in this debate than me, but why did it have to introduce a bill like Bill C-33? Because people forget-I do not want to alarm you with this, because I know you have many other concerns-that the Canadian Human Rights Act is unconstitutional. That is a fact.
In 1992, the Court of Appeal of Ontario ruled that some of the provisions in the Canadian Human Rights Act were unconstitutional.
Let me remind the House of the events that led to that point. In 1990, an officer in the Canadian Forces-"there's no life like it"-went to see his commanding officer and told him he was homosexual. The year was 1990, and the commanding officer applied a directive. He did his duty in applying the directive then in force in the Canadian Forces. Although it is no longer in force, that 1990 directive provided for the demobilization-that is the word used in the directive-of those members of the Canadian Forces who declared themselves or were presumed to be homosexual.
The officer in question, Mr. Haig, brought the case before the courts. Officer Haig was demobilized. He tried to avail himself of a provision and filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The commission was unable to hear his case because there were no grounds for filing grievances based on sexual orientation.
Officer Haig tried to avail himself of the protection based on marital status but his complaint was rejected. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, which is in fact an administrative tribunal, suggested that Mr. Haig, who was demobilized because he had admitted being homosexual, take his grievance to an ordinary court of law.
So the legal saga from an administrative tribunal to the Court of Appeal of Ontario led to some of the provisions in the Canadian Human Rights Act being ruled unconstitutional.
I do not remember whether the decision was unanimous or not, but the fact remains that the Court of Appeal of Ontario ruled that, under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms-which the parliamentary secretary was referring to earlier and which, as you may recall, came into force in 1985 and is part of the Constitution-every individual is equal before the law.
That is why, since 1992, not only has the Canadian Human Rights Act been declared unconstitutional, but also it has become common practice to construe that the charter and the Canadian Human Rights Act should be read as including sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
In 1992, Kim Campbell was the Minister of Justice. This may be a good or a bad memory for this House, but the historical fact remains that Ms. Campbell was the Minister of Justice at the time. Kim Campbell, as the Minister of Justice, decided-and we should be grateful to her for this-not to appeal the case. As a result, not only did the Ontario court's decision become binding in Ontario, but Ms. Campbell decided to make it binding across Canada.
That is why the government decided, in its generosity, to include sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act. In fact, legally speaking, and I know that the hon. parliamentary secretary's many qualifications include a law degree, we had no choice but to make this change.
I have followed the debates on Bill C-33 assiduously, as you know. I was here the whole time, but not once did Reform members rise to call attention to this obligation. Not once did they take the logical line of reasoning of saying that, parliamentarians' wishes aside, what we are about to do a few hours from now-and there is no doubt that we will win this battle-is to bring the legislation in line with a decision made by a court, a court of appeal, an ordinary court of law, namely the Court of Appeal of Ontario.
I think that our viewers, anyone who is concerned with human rights must be reminded of these historical facts.
We started down the slippery slope of confusion and dismay the moment you and those before you gave the floor to the Reform Party. Then we heard about everything but the kitchen sink. We were threatened with just about everything except being prohibited from eating our Corn Flakes with milk, if this bill went through. Canada was going to turn into some kind of Liberia and was facing potential anarchy.
Fortunately, this debate is an opportunity to get our facts straight. First, let their be no mistake. I think it must be out of some freudian obsession that every member of the Reform Party told us the definition of marriage would be altered if this bill were passed. I bet you a quart of beer of your choice, Madam Speaker, that the next Reformer to speak after me will make the same point.
We must bear two things in mind. First, the solemnization of marriage comes under provincial jurisdiction. Second, nothing in this bill-it is merely three clauses long; it cannot be all that
difficult to read-will in any way, shape or form, directly or indirectly, change the definition of marriage.
In fact, if the government had wanted, which is doubtful, to make any change to the concept of marriage, its decision would most likely have been invalidated. Do you know why? Because, in 1995, last year then, a judgment was handed down under common law. I wish to dedicate this judgment to my Reformer friends.
In the matter of Layland and Beaulne versus the Province of Ontario, the claimants challenged under section 15 of the charter, to which I referred earlier-it provides for equality for all and therefore protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation-the requirement under common law that marriage be the joining of a man and a woman in matrimony.
The charter, which is enshrined in the Constitution, takes precedence over any other act. In essence, the Layland and Beaulne judgment said the following: "The restriction imposed by common law in that marriage must be entered into by persons of different sexes does not constitute discrimination against the claimants in violation of section 15 of the act".
Until now, no court of justice has ever sought to change the definition of marriage under section 15, and it is unlikely that we should ever see such a ruling. Of course, other countries in the world, such as Denmark and Norway, while not allowing same sex marriages, do authorize declarations of civil union. This is not a sacrament: it is a declaration of civil union allowing spouses to enter into a mutually benefitting contract.
I tried to be as clear as possible in making this clarification. I hope that those who are listening, including Reform Party members, will understand that this bill does not change the notion of marriage. There are legal precedents in these countries and, without predicting the future, I think that if a fellow Canadian, whether from Newfoundland, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan or anywhere else, were to attempt, under the Canadian legislation or the charter, to change the notion of marriage, there are firm guarantees that, under the common law, a marriage can only take place between two people of opposite sex.
This is not to say that I am not personally in favour of giving some guarantees to same sex spouses. I even tabled a bill to this effect. However, this is another issue, and it definitely does not involve marriage. These clarifications had to be made regarding the case law and the justice system.
Another often heard misconception is that, should the legislation go through, the family will suddenly, as if by magic, be undermined in our country.
First of all, this bill concerns individuals. Those who file complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission involving possible challenges relating to sexual orientation are definitely individuals. In recent years, such complaints accounted for 4 to 10 per cent of the total number.
Second, there is no reason to believe that a bill such as this one will allow us to redefine or to undermine the family. The justice minister, unnecessarily in my view, played it safe and added a preamble stating that the family remains the basis, the foundation of Canadian society.
I am not necessarily any happier that this preamble is there, because I do not think it is necessary. But it is there, so be it, and we are not going to amend it, we will live with it.
So, there is confusion between couples and families. It is true that, in the past, the Canadian Human Rights Act-in fact, not just the Canadian Human Rights Act, but various administrative tribunals, including certain labour relations boards-has forced employers to give certain benefits to same sex partners.
You are indicating that I have only ten minutes left, Madam Speaker. How time flies. I wonder if there would be consent to let me have more time. I would guess not. I will therefore try to wrap up my remarks, but ten minutes is more than I need.
The fact is that certain rulings have been made under the Canadian Human Rights Act by tribunals throughout the country, particularly administrative tribunals, allowing certain benefits to same sex partners, in the case of dental or health insurance for example. That is true, it would be dishonest not to mention it, but that in no way changes the definition of the family.
A couple is a couple. It is true that I myself think that a couple can consist of a man and a woman, two men, or two women, but this does not constitute a family.
However much of an activist I may be, recognition of same sex partners will not lead me to say that two lesbians or two homosexuals constitute a family. It is not true, and it is not what we are talking about in this bill.
I think another distinction should be made. You will remember that in 1985 a parliamentary committee toured Canada. It included the member for Mount Royal, whom I would like to salute, because of her strong commitment in recent years to promoting human rights. The year 1985, you will remember, was the year section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into effect. It identified various discrimination scenarios, scenarios that continue to exist today.
Still, in 1995 and 1996, there are people who are not promoted because they are gay. There are people who are deprived of federal services because they are gay. There are people who are deprived of services. Not so long ago a group that was at my house reminded me that a priest of a parish, a parish I will not name, had refused to
rent them a hall, because the group was openly identified with promoting homosexual rights.
We are, today, not only updating legislation, we are sending a very clear message to all elements of Canadian society that we as legislators cannot allow discrimination to continue.
Most important is the fact that we are able to work so that, in ten years, should we find ourselves again in the midst of a debate, things will have changed and people who are 14, 15 or 16 and discover they are homosexual may know that there are guarantees under the law and also that legislators, those who have a public voice, out of respect for the family and the constituent majority, will ensure that we may tell homosexuals they have their rightful place in society, like all taxpayers. They have a rightful place as producers, creators and citizens.
This is the most important aspect of the bill. Today as legislators, we will say on both sides of the House that we assume our responsibilities, that we disapprove of discrimination and that we want their rights and the services they receive protected under the federal system. We will not tolerate discrimination.
Allow me to close with one point. We had one day where we heard witnesses in parliamentary committee. There was a pediatrician from Calgary, a city represented by the Reform Party. I am going to talk to the Reformers and thus be out of order. The pediatrician in question is a university professor. He had done a longitudinal study, that is, one over several years. He reminded us that, in Canada, two million young people die by their own hand each year, for various reasons of course. Of these, 60 per cent, according to the professor from Calgary, are unable to cope with the discovery of their homosexuality.
This is what Bill C-33 is about. It, with a number of other measures, because the problem is not solved, will allow us to say to young people who are homosexual-Because do not think for an instant that it is a matter of choice, that you wake up one day and say: "Today I am homosexual, tomorrow I will be heterosexual, and on the weekend, who knows?"
But that is not the case. When one discovers one is homosexual-and, as you are aware, I know what I am talking about-one knows it is not a choice but a matter of predetermination. That is why Bill C-33 is important, because it will tell young people across the country-whether they live in rural or urban areas, whether they are students or workers, whether they want to become professionals or technicians-that we recognize their rights as first class citizens.
Not only do we recognize their rights as first class citizens, but we will not tolerate discrimination. Not only will we not tolerate discrimination, but we want them to succeed on the basis of what they are in their professional environments. I sincerely believe that all those in this House who will rise in a few hours to vote against this bill are committing a serious, an irreparable violation of human rights for which they will have to account some day.
I will say in closing that both the parliamentary secretary and the Minister of Justice were very eloquent in this regard, and I hope that I too made some impression. What we are discussing today is legislative protection. Nothing in this bill will change the family. Nothing in this bill will prevent someone who is proud to be heterosexual but who is tolerant deep down inside from receiving services from the federal government or having the sex life he wants for himself.
May I make a final appeal to Reformers; I know there are generous people among them. I know that, like us all, they too were elected and that all of us in this House share the same mandate. To them I make a final appeal to review their position and vote in favour of this bill.
We may well disagree on economic policies or on the national issue. I, for one, will continue to defend my ideas on economic matters-which may sometimes go against those of the government-and I will remain a sovereignist. However, when we as parliamentarians witness open discrimination, we have a duty to help end these practices. To Reformers I make a final appeal to review their position and find it in their hearts to vote in favour of this bill.
Canadian Human Rights Act
Sharon Hayes Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-33, as it addresses amendments to add sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
I want to review and put into the record how we feel about the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected category in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
We have considered the arguments for and against the inclusion of these words and we take the following positions. We affirm that all Canadians, including homosexuals, are entitled to life, liberty, security of the person, freedom from discrimination regardless of personal characteristics, and that these entitlements should be strictly enforced.
We affirm that these entitlements should be based not on personhood, not on sexual orientation or any other personal characteristics.
We oppose the tendency of the courts and of Parliament to create or recognize different categories of persons in Canada for the purpose of defining or augmenting their rights under the charter or the Canadian Human Rights Act. We oppose the practice of granting undefined or unlimited rights under the charter or the Canadian Human Rights Act.
We oppose the government's announced intention to specifically include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act as both unnecessary and inadvisable.
As I begin to speak to Bill C-33, I salute the people in the House who have stood against the tide. During the last one and one-half weeks there has been a gargantuan effort to pull together strategies and an information battle by the government and the press, a campaign of misinformation or diversion from the real issues.
I state today that the government is bereft of credibility in the program it has put before the Canadian people. It has been driven to hide its own deficit in integrity through what it has done here.
We see the government's cheap political ploys, innuendo and its working with the media to stir up controversy rather than looking at what needs to be asked and addressed. We see things happening that cover the fact that the Liberals failed on their GST promise. They failed on their handling of the Somalia affair, the Krever commission, the Westray mine. The families and people involved are looking to this place and asking: "What are you doing?" The unity debate, what have we done there? This government has failed the Canadian people in so many ways.
Two and one-half years ago I came to this place not to save the country. Many people here have certain reasons for coming to this place. Certainly part of what was in my heart was to address the weakening structure of this country's families. I say that from the heart. There is not a lot of glitz. There is not a lot of glamour in saying that I stand for family, but our families and the institutions surrounding them are fundamental to so many things.
The importance of the family within Canadian society is like building a wall of defence for this country, but it can only be built one brick at a time. And the wall will only be as good as the bricks that make it up. If those bricks are fractured, chipped or substituted with something else, the building blocks will weaken the wall of defence. We will have a wall that is open to decay, open to attack and open to a loss of security for this very country.
Today, that wall which has been built with the bricks of families is crumbling beneath us. We see it in our justice system. We see it in our economic system. Families in distress. We see it in the loss of hope of Canadians.
The heroes of our day are those who invest their time and effort into brick making, that is, creating strong and healthy families to build this country. Those folks are in our homes, in our communities, in our churches right across this land. Those people are on both sides of this House. They have stood bravely.
Today I am pleased to express not just my concerns about Bill C-33 but convictions that I hold. First, I believe in the equality of all Canadians. The basic principle that Canadians are equal under all our laws is one which defines the policy and approach of the Reform Party. It has affected many of our policies.
In our unity principle for Canada, we stand on the fact that Canada is created of 10 equal provinces under this great Confederation. There are no special rights for any one province. The equality principle extends to the basic definitions of the rights and privileges of every individual in this country.
The Reform Party and I utterly reject the definition of equality based on a listing of groups and the promotion and protection of certain categories based simply on historical disadvantage. Where in that is true equality today?
The Liberal mindset is to list categories, to elevate or to look at the different rights of different people and elevate the rights of one group which by definition is at the cost of another.
For instance, we see the failed policies of employment equity rejected by Canadians, that is, the right to hire and to promote people based not on their ability, based not on getting the best person for the job but based on their membership in a category in one of those lists. I say shame on that mindset. That makes the rights and privileges of these individuals unequal. In fact, some in our society become more equal than others.
The Reform Party rejects the listing of categories in the Canadian Human Rights Act and in the charter.
If we look back in history we see that it was Trudeau's repatriation of the Constitution that brought in our charter of rights. It brought in that first list. The charter of rights replaced the pre-existing bill of rights which had no such list. But a man introduced a list and the impression of equality by category.
In this debate I learned that the American bill of rights and before that the French declaration of the rights of men and citizens of the 18th century have no lists. Equality is simply stated as the universal right of every individual. That is the model used in many countries of the world.
However, for whatever reason, our Prime Minister of years past decided that a list was the way to go. It has allowed the courts to pit the rights of some Canadians over others. It has introduced a system of special rights by inclusion in the list and lesser rights by exclusion from it.
An hon. member mentioned earlier how we could question a list. Great thinkers in history have done very well without a list. The list is again mirrored in this approach to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Interest groups are lining up to be included.
Our party has said it would delete the entire list, not add another category to something that is already at fault. We believe in equality before and under the law for everyone and the equal protection from discrimination under the law which is provided in the charter. We believe that all Canadians should have their rights protected, including the very right we are discussing today, the right to freedom from discrimination. My first conviction is that equality for all Canadians is a basic right.
The second conviction I bring to the House today is that the government has abandoned Canadian families. The family is the foundation of society. As our families go, so will society go. The Liberal attempts to redefine it to reflect our changing times do not make sense. We should be looking at how we can strengthen this institution. It is the basic building block of our society. It has been defined through time and tradition. When anyone attempts to alter its importance in society it should not be taken lightly. Our families build this world. It is strength in our families that will lead to strength in our nations.
Today I would like to demonstrate where the government has abandoned the family. Under the guise of human rights it will promote the reconstruction of the basic definitions and the understanding of this basic building block of our society. It will open up a gateway of interpretation for our courts once it is passed. This gateway of interpretation will facilitate a social reconstruction which will affect more Canadians in more aspects of their lives than we can image.
The government has abused its majority. It has rammed through this legislation. To prevent the implications from being realized, the government has rammed this legislation through in approximately two and one-half days of debate and one and one-half days in committee. Even then the committee was loaded with pro government witnesses and pro government MPs. This is an abuse of power and it is a deception of the Canadian people. It is a lack of integrity within the process that would address this most important issue.
It was interesting in committee. Two people on that committee also sat on the 1985 all-party committee which has been quoted so often in the House. That was the very committee which recommended for the first time that sexual orientation be added to the Canadian Human Rights Act. It was interesting that the chair of the present committee, who was also on the 1985 committee, admitted it was the member for Burnaby-Kingsway who wrote that committee's report.
In my earlier presentation to the present committee I said that the 1985 committee went beyond its mandate. I challenge this House: Who is it that authors reports from committees in this place? Why was a member from a third or fourth party-whatever it was at that time-assigned to author that report? That report is quoted again and again to justify what we are doing today.
Most members were in the House last night. We saw graphically the lack of promises. The avoidance of the issue was demonstrated once again. The justice minister time and time again either has put forward statements which I believe are misleading or has refused to answer specific questions. Those issues were put to the test last night.
We asked the minister to make promises or to clarify where the bill was going. In committee, within this House and in dialogue with him we asked what were the implications of the bill. Last night, those members with concerns about the bill spelled out their concerns and put them forward as amendments. They are the concerns not only of people in this place, but of Canadians from coast to coast. With just a few days to ask these questions, we put them forward. We put it to the government to answer the question of what the effect will be of this bill. Our concerns should be the concerns of every Canadian and I believe they are.
What is the government record? The justice minister has said that this legislation is simply a matter of adding two words to the act, a very simple bill of two clauses and that those two words would prevent discrimination and would have no bearing on other legislation. He also said that there are eight provinces with similar legislation which has not caused any problems and why in the world would we be worried about such a thing here. I will briefly look at four major areas of concern which were brought up last night.
One of the questions Canadians are asking is whether this will authorize same sex benefits. Will spousal benefits come out of what we are looking at in this bill today? Report stage Motion No. 14 sought to verify that no change would be implicit in this bill in regard to spousal benefits. It added a new clause to affirm that nothing in the bill would result in same sex benefits, a very simple amendment. The amendment was defeated by the government in a vote of 166 to 50. The government was not prepared to make any commitment on that promise even though it seemed to indicate it on every side.
The Ontario bill 167, last year when it was brought in for a free vote, as supposedly this one is, they were at least honest enough to explicitly state it would change benefits and some other things. Last year in a free vote in Ontario it went down to defeat.
Bill C-33 neither states this will be an implication nor has it been given any time for public discussion or debate. Again the claim by the minister is that the bill is simply basic protection from discrimination.
The Minister of Justice wrote a memo to Liberal MPs not long ago stating this amendment will not result in the extension of benefits to homosexual partners. I am sure Liberal members said "good, I can go home and tell my constituents they have nothing to fear".
Government officials and the justice minister have admitted this will logically lead to a provision of spousal benefits. I quote Max Yalden, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, March 15, 1994: "We are strongly in favour of an amendment to the human rights act that would prohibit any discrimination based on sexual orientation. That means if benefits are paid to a heterosexual couple, the same benefits should be paid to a couple living in the same situation, except that they are two men or women".
The justice minister in an exclusive interview with a pro-homosexual newspaper in March, 1994 is quoted as saying: "If the government takes the position that you cannot discriminate, it follows as a matter of logic that you have spousal entitlement to benefits". He and Max Yalden seemed to agree at that time anyway. However, neither is willing to admit it at this time either to the House or to the Canadian public.
If the Canadian Human Rights Act has nothing to do with spousal benefits, why is the majority of cases dealing with same sex matters before the Canadian Human Rights Commission based on spousal benefit? It is those cases which are waiting for a decision to be made here. It will happen.
The second question every Canadian is asking is whether this will lead to a redefinition of family, family status, marriage or spouse. This was addressed last night by several of our amendments. Motion No. 11 simply added a clause to the bill affirming that sexual orientation will not define marriage, family, spouse in any act of Parliament. That is very straightforward.
Motion No. 21 suggested adding a clause reflecting a definition of family that would be understood by the majority of Canadians. The definition of family is those related by blood, marriage or adoption. A marriage is defined as a union of a man and a woman, as defined by law. That definition is what most Canadians would abide by.
When the justice minister came before the committee he steadfastly refused to put any definition or proposed definition to the word family in the preamble of the bill. The justice minister in a press release of April, 1996 said: "The proposed amendment will have no bearing on definitions of marriage, family or spouse. It will simply guarantee human rights".
In the committee both the member for Burnaby-Kingsway and I, for two different reasons I am sure, pressed the justice minister time and time again. We asked if this would include same sex unions and what kind of definition of family are we talking about. Neither one of us could get any kind of answer from the justice minister.
I was reading a summary of Canada v. Mossup of February 25, 1993. This case had to do with benefits, as many cases do. I quote from it. It is in relation to definitions within legislation. At that time it was looking at the definition of family status: "Parliament's decision to leave family status undefined is evidence of clear legislative intent that the term's meaning should be left for the commission and tribunals to define. The enumerated grounds of discrimination are established so that the meaning is not frozen in time and scope and may evolve".
It admits at this time that the lack of definition for the term family status is specifically so that courts can change that definition.
Logically from that, the lack of will to define family within legislation leaves it within the purview of the courts not only to define it but to evolve that definition. It means redefinition by courts by not defining it.
In 1993 Chief Justice Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada commented on the effect of the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act. He said if sexual orientation had been included in the act we are looking at today, his interpretation of the case which he had just reviewed could have been or very likely would have been that homosexual couples would have legal family status.
With sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act would change the definition of family status. It would change the definition of spouse. It would change the meaning of over 50 federal statutes in relation to those definitions.
Will this lead to affirmative action programs for homosexuals? That is a concern for many Canadians. Motion No. 18 last night stated that nothing in the addition of the words sexual orientation in the two sections will result in the inclusion of those terms in section 16, the section dealing with special programs or affirmative action.
Even though specifically these words are not included in section 16 of this proposed amendment of the government, these words are included in section 3. The first words of that section read "for all purposes of this act" and then goes on to include sexual orientation.
Therefore it is not only possible, probable, but perhaps surely sexual orientation will be read into section 16. Last night the government again defeated the amendment that would have clarified that concern.
Why are the words sexual orientation now appearing on application forms in post-secondary institutions? Why in this upcoming census for all Canadians, a census whereby the government gets the proportions to use in affirmative action programs, for our employment equity program, will sexual orientation questions appear? It would appear that will become part of the government program.
In the committee we had the Ottawa police delegation. It admitted it now uses employment equity practices in its hiring and in its promotion. Right now it is actively and proactively recruiting gays and lesbians for the force. It does not take a lot of imagination to see that becoming part of its total employment equity program.
Will individual freedoms such as the freedom of religion, expression and association be affected? This is a concern of every Canadian.
The justice minister in his opening speech on the bill gravely misquoted the Catholic catechism in his speech. This is in terms of freedom of religion. He spoke that day for religions and basically said the legislation did not offend any religion. In saying this, the justice minister made a gross intrusion on and a gross misrepresentation of many Canadians. He abused the jurisdiction of his office in saying that.
I have letters from different religious organizations firmly opposed to what is going on here today, the Ontario Association for Catholic Families, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Christian Ministers Association, British Columbia-Yukon District Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, the First Baptist Church in Nanaimo, the Vancouver Chinese Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship, the Bishops Office of the District of Kamloops, to name a few.
How could the justice minister have been so blatantly wrong in making that statement? The justice minister also stated the provincial experience indicates there have been no conflicts and no ill effects of implementing sexual orientation in their human rights acts.
I have just a couple of examples. There was a legal case in 1980 in Quebec. The Catholic school board of Montreal was forced to rent out its facilities to the homosexual association of Quebec. The Catholic school board of Montreal argued homosexuality was condemned by the church and it, as an educational institution and as a church, had the right to resist renting out its facilities. The courts did not agree.
A second example is in Alberta, Queen's Bench, 1994. The employee of a religious institution was dismissed because he did not comply with that institution's policy on homosexual practice. The right to his employment was struck down on appeal. It has been said the very movement at the federal level for introducing this term into the federal Canadian Human Rights Act has been precipitated by the fact that this provincial court struck this down, and in order to ensure this would be the direction of this particular place the legislation had to be done sooner rather than later.
However, the issue remains a religious institution challenged as to its own choices and who should work with it.
A third example is the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, March 1993 in Winnipeg. The case was Kippen v. the Big Brothers Association of Winnipeg. It was alleged that the Big Brothers Association of Winnipeg discriminated against this individual when it refused to match this individual with a little brother because he was gay. Big Brothers did have a policy not to match a gay person with a little brother unless the parents specifically indicated a gay man would be acceptable to that match. However, that provision was not good enough. This was challenged within the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.
This was deemed to fall under the category of provision of services, which falls under the Canadian Human Rights Act, but it went against the Big Brothers Association of Winnipeg.
A fourth example is a decision by the B.C. Council of Human Rights, dated August 4, 1995. In this decision it was determined that a doctor discriminated against a lesbian couple when he refused to provide them with artificial insemination services because they were lesbian.
It is interesting to note that this doctor had provided this type of service to a previous lesbian couple, had been caught up in their litigation and so had decided to withdraw from this kind of scenario for his own reasons. The doctor, who had previous artificial insemination litigation, argued that professionals should be able to provide services to whom they choose. However, the council did not agree with him and so it was struck down.
The two people involved in this litigation, Tracy Potter and Sandra Benson, are constituents of mine and I have met with them. Last year I received a birth announcement from them so obviously they found someone who would meet their need. In the meantime there was a human rights challenge against this doctor.
A fifth example has to do with the effects of provincial decisions. The justice minister claimed that what happens in the provinces has been fine and has no effect through the country.
The Leshner case was before the Ontario board of inquiry and the Canadian human rights report, September 1992, states that the majority concludes that the definition of marital status be read down to remove recrimination based on marital status by reading out the phrase "of the opposite sex". Further, it urges the Government of Ontario to make every effort to persuade the
Government of Canada to change the Income Tax Act, and if political persuasion is unsuccessful then to take legal action.
In addition to these court cases I would also like to put to the Canadian public and to the members of the House that when we think of lists and categories, I think of the experience with visible minorities here in Ontario. I am familiar with police departments that are not allowed to keep criminal statistics by visible minority categories.
Yesterday the issue was raised that these are facts that would help society not to discriminate against a group but to help the whole. If there is problem within a group that should be addressed and not be denied on the basis of discriminating against a group.
However, last night a member of my party was challenged when he brought forward health statistics. What will happen if statistics, if facts, if the very things that will create decision processes are not allowed to come forward whether it be for treatment, funding or anything. What if these facts can be put down and made untouchable, groups made unaccountable, because of the protection of this word discrimination.
What about freedom of expression? I am aware that a homosexual lifestyle is already being taught as equivalent to a heterosexual lifestyle in our schools. I am also aware there is federal involvement through Heath Canada in our schools. There has been a curriculum development through violence initiative funding or it had been there.
The government has put out a guideline to sexual health that is in every province. It has outlined curriculum for sexual health and those guidelines go from kindergarten to grade 12.
Do Canadians know this has happened? I do not think so. Has there been freedom for parents to speak up and choose what it is that is being taught to their children, and the freedom to know of government involvement in this area, or what it is their children are being taught or suggested by the government?
I believe Bill C-33 is a gateway to the agenda of a powerful special interest group. It is not about individual discrimination, it is about special rights. It is about an invasion of family rights and privileges.
I believe that the family deserves special recognition in our society. It should not be tossed away lightly by a government which has already been responsible for much of its decline. In the name of progress, openness and rights, the family is increasingly becoming the unfortunate casualty.
I have a shocking quote from a government witness to the committee on Bill C-33. The first vice-president of the Canadian Association for Community Living said last week: "While we hear a great deal of lamenting of the fact that the traditional family is deteriorating, we must acknowledge that many of those changes have benefited women, children and society at large". This seems to be the mindset of the government. It seems to be the mindset of the bureaucrats. It is definitely not the mindset of the vast majority of Canadians.
I am reminded of one of my experiences when I was in China. While there I visited the great wall of China. The people of China wanted security behind the wall from the barbaric hordes that lived to the north. The wall was so high they thought that no one could climb over it. It was so wide they were convinced that no one could break it down. It was an awesome sight to look in both directions as far as the eye could see to see this wall snaking across the top of the mountains. It was wide enough for a chariot to drive on. Even today they say it is the only man-made structure which is visible from outer space. It is not surprising that the Chinese settled behind that wall, secure in their accomplishment.
During the first 100 years of the wall's existence China was invaded three times. Not once did the barbarians break down the wall, nor did they climb over it. Every time they bribed the gatekeeper and marched right through the gates in the wall. The Chinese were busy relying on wisdom and accomplishment and forgot the importance of integrity.
The process that we have seen in the last few days is bereft of that integrity. It is true that integrity will not come from edicts and legislation. Governments, try as they might, cannot legislate the moral fibre of the nation, but governments and the laws which they make can and do have a profound effect on those institutions which are the bedrock of society. Integrity is the most important single quality for any individual or nation. It is born and thrives in the bosom of the homes of the nation. To blithely reorder society's foundation is to threaten the nation's future.
Our future lives in the institution of family, faith and cultures. The lawmakers that deny or attempt to disregard the fundamental necessity to safeguard these historic institutions will eventually undo the fabric of the nation.
I would like to move:
That all the words after the word "That" be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
Bill C-33, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, be now read a third time since, as assigning special categories to certain groups in law, this bill does not seek to uphold the principle of equality of all Canadians while at the same time, it fails to ensure that the current legal definition of marriage, family and spouse in
federal statutes and regulations will not be altered and that fundamental freedoms in society will not be infringed upon.
Canadian Human Rights Act
The Deputy Speaker
The hon. member did not include the word "not" in her amendment. I assume she meant it. Would she so indicate?